Any child development expert will tell you that a child’s well-being and his or her capacity for learning are intrinsically linked. From the earliest of ages, children require a basic sense of comfort and security in order for their developing brains to be receptive to other stimuli. Most parents and educators realize this, but what many fail to acknowledge is that this prerequisite for learning continues into childhood, adolescence, and even adulthood! Enter social and emotional learning, a model advocates affectionately refer to as SEL.
Look at the title of this post again. I bet you don’t hear that question often. Most people assume that gifted children do so well in school that there’s really no reason to even ask. While it’s true that academics pose little trouble for those kids identified as “gifted,” that doesn’t mean that school as a whole is a breeze for them.
We all know that the biggest readers are often the biggest achievers, so a daily regimen of reading is a must. Many parents wonder how much their children should be reading outside of school, however. While there’s no definitive answer to that question, there are some guidelines you can follow to ensure that your child is getting her daily dose of literature.
Busy parents often need a helping hand when it comes to supporting their kids during the school year. But then again, I’ve yet to see a parent who isn’t busy! If you’re among the many frazzled moms or dads trying to juggle work, kids, social events, school events, extracurricular, and the like, then there’s a good chance you could use some tips to keep it all organized.
As a mom of four, I know one thing for certain—no two children are the same (or even similar) despite their genetic codes. I’m sure many of you can relate. I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard a parent sigh in exasperation at her second or third child’s behavior or mannerisms, shaking her head and saying, “Boy, I wasn’t prepared for this.” Well, just as children behave differently, they also learn differently too!
We have a school-year tradition at our house. Every night at the dinner table, we go around the table and have each child tell about the best and worst parts of their day. Occasionally, someone will have had a particularly bad day and won’t want to discuss it, and of course, we don’t push it, but most of the time, we get the usual complaints—bad food in the cafeteria, an anxiety-producing class presentation, or an overly strict teacher. Most of the time, it makes for good dinner conversation, and we all end up laughing it off. Every now and then, though, I’ll hear something that raises my eyebrows in curiosity or makes me grimace with concern.
When I taught fifth grade it felt like there were never enough books in our class library. What started out as one half-filled bookshelf eventually became two that were overflowing. I ordered every book I could afford and brought books from home once my daughters were finished with them. From Harry Potter (for the very brave) to Captain Underpants to Charlotte’s Web, one thing my students could count on was variety. There was no excuse for not finding a book worth their reading time.
If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you know that my little girl started Kindergarten last week. It has been quite an adventure for the whole family. Based on my experiences so far (and yes—I know they are limited), I thought I’d offer some tips and insight for those of you who have preschoolers.
I can remember when my daughters were little; my favorite time of the evening was story time. Their hair would smell freshly washed and they’d have their jammies on. They’d each pick a favorite picture book from the shelf, or we might be in the middle of a chapter book from the Magic Tree House series, and we’d crowd together on the bed and snuggle in to read before bedtime. Even now, when I say goodnight to my 16-year-old, I know she goes to bed and reads on her eReader before the lights go out.
Many experts suggest that you establish a reading routine with your child early on.
My three oldest children started the new school year last week. My daughter started high school, my son began his first year in middle school, and my younger daughter started Kindergarten. As I shooed everyone out the door that first morning praying their day would be a good one, I took a moment to take in the stillness of the house and the quiet the new school year had already beckoned into my home. I thought of all the work I’d get done while they were gone and the nap I might steal before the last bell rang. I realized that like myself, parents all over the county were secretly celebrating these little gifts that the fall had afforded them. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with counting your blessings, it occurred to me how easy it would be to simply wave goodbye to my children in the mornings and let the teachers take care of the rest. That’s what school’s for, right? Wrong! Although school is indeed back in session, our job as parents and co-educators has just begun. If you don’t believe me, just wait until your middle-schooler brings home a mountain of homework.